The Spacesuit Commando ‘Genre’ of Books

I’ve mentioned what I call the “spacesuit commando” genre on Fuldapocalypse before. It’s an arbitrary, slightly snide term I’ve made and used for this type of lowbrow military sci-fi I’ve read far too much of. If I had to give a definition, it’d consist of…

 

  • The background is dystopian, often excessively and pointlessly so.
  • The characters only use power armor that doesn’t seem to actually do anything.
  • The main character is either explicitly placed in a SUPER SPECIAL SPACESUIT COMMANDO unit, or whatever unit he ends up in is treated like a SUPER SPECIAL SPACESUIT COMMANDO unit, even undeservedly.
  • There’s excessive training sequences, checking the “I read Heinlein” box.
  • The main character gets promoted ridiculously high ridiculously fast.
  • A lot of the dynamics (for lack of a better word) feel weird, like the author didn’t do the most basic research.
  • The antagonists have absolutely no development whatsoever, even by the low standards of cheap thrillers. The generic “eat everything bugs” are actually slightly better in that it’s at least justified in-universe. Human/sentient opponents are painted with the same brush.

 

And yet, “spacesuit commando” stories are the ones I do read en masse. Part of it is just accessibility (most of them are on Kindle Unlimited, and there’s a “feedback loop” of getting more spacesuit commando books in my recommendations once I’ve gotten several). Part of it is that a story can have many elements of it and still be good (or at least better than some of the others). But the most ridiculous side of me likes them because of the formulaic cheese if I want an absolutely mindless read.

Some appeal after all

A lot can change in a while. About a year ago, I wrote a post where I held that special forces held little appeal to me. Now, after reading my share of “commando fiction” (for lack of a better term), I’ve grown fonder of it and fonder of “special forces” characters.

I guess I’ve just had the fortune of seeing them done better than the few examples I’d seen before.

A Pleasant Result from Fuldapocalypse

So, after a few months of reviews on Fuldapocalypse, I can say it’s helped me a lot. It’s made me realize I was looking at WWIII and military fiction in too narrow a light beforehand, and my resulting broadening of scope has been very good for me, and (I hope) very good for the blog as well.

The kind of impression I had going into the blog was that I’d be reviewing on a pretty narrow spectrum, with the sort of Hackett-style more pseudo-textbook on one end and the Chieftains/Team Yankee style story on the other. And most of my reviews still fall at least somewhat into that category.

But I think two things have influenced me more than just a simple bean count of what reviews were “conventional” World War III fiction and which ones were not. The first is that when it comes to me looking for new stories, as opposed to existing ones, I’ve been steering myself away from stuff that appears too cliche and Hackett-knockoff-y. Is reading something that’s going to be dry and infodumpy and then saying it’s dry and infodumpy really going to be productive or enjoyable to me or a reader? Especially if I do it several times in a row?

The second is the more pleasant surprise I’ve gotten, and that’s that moving away from internet, I’ve seen more characterization and more plot/setting diversity even in the ones I’ve already read. Granted, I had low expectations, but still. There’s that, and then there’s some of the stories moving outside the narrow corridor acting as a “springboard” of sorts for me to read even better and more different cheap thrillers.

So Fuldapocalypse has helped reinvigorate my interest in a genre I thought I knew, explore subgenres I didn’t, and made me rethink some of my critiques. I hope my readers have found it just as fulfilling.

 

Why I Liked Them At Fuldapocalypse

So I’m very critical even of things I like. The problem is that this can frequently come across as too negative. Because of this, and because I wanted to shake things up so that my formula wouldn’t become a pit, I decided to do an experiment on Fuldapocalypse. I’d take three books I love and talk in some detail about the positive and only the positive effects.

It’s here , and while it was a little challenging to write, it was also very, very fun and much-needed practice in me expanding on positive, as opposed to negative, critique.